Drive: Nissan Navara TechXtreme


Pickups aren’t the first thing that comes to your mind when people talk about hi-tech vehicles. Why should it? They’re basically beasts of burden, utilitarian vehicles that you pile stuff on when said stuff doesn’t fit the trunk or backseat of your car. It came as a surprise then when I learned that Nissan decided to come out with a new version of the Navara, tricked out with an entertainment system that most tech heads would lust for. And being a self-confessed lover of all things tech (I write for a tech mag after all), it was love at first sight.

Let’s get this little tidbit out of the way first: aside from the hi-end entertainment system, the Navara TechXtreme is basically the same 2.5L 4-cylinder CRDI six speed manual transmission model that came out last year. There haven’t been a lot of changes externally or internally, save for new carpeting and a host of minor things.

While the Navara TechXtreme doesn’t have anything new to offer mechanically speaking, the integrated entertainment and information system simply just blew me away. The heart of the system is a 6.5-inch touchscreen display that serves as the information hub.

Aside from the central screen, there are also 7-inch dual-headrest mounted displays that Nissan says come standard in this particular model, which is a first for vehicles in its class.

Below the main display sits two USB slots and an iPod cable. The left USB slot (with the power button) is the built-in internal Wi-Fi router for the Navara, while the right USB slot is used to connect USB thumb drives, hard-disks and smartphones to stream content to the entertainment system. Incidentally, the Navara TechXtreme is the first vehicle I’ve come across with that has an internal Wi-Fi router built-in, which came in handy during long trips and in traffic.

Speaking of traffic, the Navara TechXtreme is completely capable of steering you around the worst of it, thanks to its GPS navigation system. Aside from being extremely easy to use, the navigation system was also remarkably complete, with literally hundreds of POIs (points of interests) visible on screen even in new-ish roads and highways.

There’s also a multitude of connectivity options to hook up tablets, smartphones and iPhones. There’s a dedicated iPod cable to hook up your iPhone/iPad/iPod to the entertainment system which then transfers control of your device to it, allowing your passengers (and you, if you’re parked somewhere) to enjoy the music and videos in your personal library. If you’re not using an iOS device, you’re not out of luck – you can still enjoy your tunes via Bluetooth, which incidentally also transfers your phone calls directly to the entertainment system – which is handy when you’re absolutely need to talk with clients and whatnot while driving. Finally, a USB slot allows you to plug-in external storage devices (which also work with some smartphones) that let you enjoy your music and videos on the go. Incidentally, if you play a movie file from any device, it gets shared on the two smaller displays mounted on the headrests too.

I’ve briefly touched on the internal Wi-Fi router before, but it bears going into in detail. Basically, the router allows you to get internet connectivity via a broadband stick connected through the left side USB port. All of the current USB broadband sticks are supported no matter what the plan, whether they come from Smart, Globe or Sun. After plugging in the USB broadband stick, you’ll have to configure the router via its web-based interface. From there you’ll be able to set the APN (which is important if you want your stick to work), SSID, wireless security settings and a bunch of other things. Bottomline here is that the built-in internal router has all the bases covered.

All of these things would be for naught if the Navara TechXtreme wasn’t pleasurable to drive. Thankfully, the pick-up is just the opposite – driving it down the streets of Makati was a pleasure in itself, and it had enough grunt from its 2.5L CRDI engine to power the vehicle through most driving situations. Add to that the Navara’s unique 6-speed transmission, then you have a pick-up that has plenty of power and is economical to drive.

The Nissan Navara TechXtreme is priced at Php 1.438 million for the 6-speed manual transmission model and Php 1.498 million for the 5-speed automatic transmission model.